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The Showroom
This is the place to show off your BMW to other members of the community. Post pictures and videos of your car and the modifications you have done to it. If you need a picture of something on a coupe, sedan, convertible or touring you will probably find it here!

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Old 12-13-2016, 11:56 PM   #1
L1011tristar17
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Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 20
My Ride: 1999 328i
'99 328i "Frank"

**WARNING: Long story ahead, so be warned**

Since I was 16 I had always driven large and slow cars. In high school I drove a 1989 Lincoln Town Car which was later followed by a 2002 Buick Park Avenue in college. I really liked the way that these big cars cruise down the road, plus they were also simple to work on. The Lincoln was especially cool since it really stood out from everything else on the road.


The Lincoln


All three together


When I graduated college in May 2016, I wanted to drive something more presentable (read: appropriate for my age). Driving around in an AARP-special Buick wasn't going to cut it. The Buick was also starting to have mechanical problems and I was just getting tired of it.

My aunt and uncle moved from the DC area to the beach in July and needed to get rid of some of their extra cars. One of which was my aunt's 1999 328i. She had owned this car since it was a couple of years old. When I went to look at it, the car had only 108,000 miles and still looked like new. It also has the Sports Package with the black interior. All four of the window regulators had recently been replaced and all of the parking lot dings and scratches had been pulled out. I wrote a check for $3000 and the car was mine!







Once I got back home, I quickly put the Buick up for sale on craigslist (which I sold a few weeks later for $2900) and gave the BMW a good interior cleaning. Most of it was dog hair, but the interior was still in great shape.



The first thing I replaced were the front brake pads and rotors. I made the mistake of buying the parts from O'Reilly's instead of sticking with OEM. The new rotors were warped out of the box and caused horrible pedal vibration while breaking. Turns out that the OEM parts were only $50 more in total than the aftermarkets. Luckily I was able to take advantage of the warranty on the old parts and get my money back. The car also needed a new set of tires, which I learned real quick during some rainy weather. Four new tires and an alignment really changed how the car rode.





I also did a lot of travelling in this car. From Charlotte, I took it on three separate trips to Wilmington, many trips up to Virginia, and even as far as Pennsylvania to visit grandparents. I also got the opportunity to take it one of the last wooden stern-wheeler paddle boat in operation in North America.





I also decided that the stock CD changer just wasn't cutting it anymore. I like the stock look of the business radio, so an aftermarket replacement was out of the question. I also didn't want to pay hundreds of dollars for a newer used BMW radio and still have to wire in an aux input. I ended up ordering the Denison unit for about $75 and then I added a bluetooth dongle to the 30-pin iPhone 4 connector. The bluetooth pairs to my phone every time and works flawlessly!

I also got into my first three accidents in this car, none of which were my fault:

The first accident happened across the street from campus when a pedestrian ran out in front of me in the middle of the road (no crosswalk). I hit the brakes to avoid hitting him but he still ran into the back corner of my car and fell down. Before I could even get out, he got up and continued running. He left some scratches in the paint which really pissed me off.


You can see some of the scratches, most of them were polished out

The second accident happened right outside my apartment when I got rear-ended by another driver. I don't know whether he was texting or not, but he simply didn't react in time and hit me going about 20mph. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the driver was very apologetic. I called the police to file a report but it took them almost two hours to show up. In fact, my insurance claim was filed and processed before the officer even arrived, and this was on a Friday.





I was able to drive away from the accident, but the car had some pretty significant damage. Most of it was on the passenger rear quarter panel and bumper cover. The entire panel had a pretty good size dent right in front of the filler door, which made the rear door hard to open. The insurance adjuster basically totaled the car without examining it and cut me a check for $4100 + letting me keeping the car.

After having three separate shops tell me that the damage couldn't be fixed, I began looking for another e46. Despite being in such a big area, the prospects were disappointing. It was either base model 325s or high mileage 330s with tons of issues. I looked at a couple of 325s from private sellers. The first one was in okay shape, but the second one I saw was the biggest pile I had ever driven. The guy selling it basically slathered the interior and engine bay in ArmorAll but chose not to fix the airbag light, windows, or air conditioning. It misfired hard on the highway and shook while breaking. I asked the seller if the sunroof worked and he said "yeah." I pressed the switch and heard the horrible sound of plastic shattering as the sunroof opened halfway before coming to a slow stop. Hard pass.


The ArmorAll Special. I didn't even know it was an -xi until I did a VIN check afterward

I was getting ready to go ahead and finance a newer car when I decided to take the '99 back home to a local body shop in Virginia. I knew this place would do great work since they had worked on our cars for years. The good news was that they were more than willing to fix the damage (pull the quarter panel, replace frame rails, install bumper cover, repaint, etc.) but it would probably cost more than what I got from insurance. I ended up biting the bullet and having them fix the car and bring it back to new.

And bring it back to new, they did! In order to save me money, the offered to take the car to a shop 40 minutes away that specializes in frame repair. Having them straighten the rails instead of replacing them easily saved me a couple hundred bucks. When I picked the car up, it looked like brand new again.







Which brings me to the third accident. That same night, while heading back to Charlotte, a deer jumped out in front of me and I hit it going about 20mph. Luckily I was able to brake before impact, but it still damaged the hood, corner light, and passenger fender. I didn't even have the car back for 12 hours!





You can imagine how much it would have cost to ship a new $520 BMW hood from California, so a used hood was my only real option. The best one I could find was 45 minutes away at a junkyard in Salisbury. It was off of a 323i sedan and matched the color of my car. I rented a Uhaul pickup to transport the hood back to my apartment. When I got to the warehouse, I found that the hood had deep paint scratches from when it was stored. Since it was the only straight pre-facelift hood in the area, I still ended up buying it. Fortunately the shop knocked $40 off of the price because of its condition. Even with the truck rental included, buying used saved me a lot of money over getting the new part.



So this is how the car sits currently. I ordered the kidney grilles and corner light lens and should be getting them tomorrow. Next week I am taking it back to Virginia to have the fender dent pulled and hood repainted. I am also planning on upgrading the speakers and replacing the old floor mats in the near future.



As a bonus, I also indirectly convinced my friend to buy an e46. He isn't really a car guy, but he liked the car a lot and I don't mind helping him work on it. His is a '99 323i.

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Old 12-16-2016, 05:00 PM   #2
L1011tristar17
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Location: Charlotte, NC
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My Ride: 1999 328i
Blower Motor Replacement

One problem that my car has always had was with the blower motor. I would get the infamous crickets sound with the fan on low speeds. I used to just turn the speed up to go away, but the fan started to make noises at those speeds too. I got a new blower motor from entcee (thanks!) and decided to tackle the job today. It was a balmy 28 degrees out but at least there was no snow.

To get to the blower, I had to remove the cabin air filter cover, filter, tray, plastic engine cover, and then the big metal plate. Once I removed the plastic covers, I was able to get the blower motor assembly out through the passenger side of the car.


Old and new motors




Good riddance!



The instructions I followed were off of a video on Youtube:



I found that it is easier to remove the plastic cover that is above and to the left of the fan before disconnecting the electrical connector. I was able to do it with my hands with the cover removed versus using pliers with the cover in place. The new motor came with a different cradle, which I had to swap in since the old one wouldn't fit the new motor. It was easiest to put the new motor in the new cradle and install them together. Putting the bottom two torx bits in place in the holes helped a lot since there isn't a ton of room once the motor is in position. I also had to be really careful not to bend any of the plastic fins.

This job was definitely not as bad as I thought it would be. It took me about an hour and a half including time to track down tools and breaks. The fan works great now and is nice and quiet. Guy walking by my apartment saw me working and started ranting about how hard them foreign cars are to work on. Yeah sure buddy, I doubt your Cobalt would be any easier to fix.

Last edited by L1011tristar17; 12-16-2016 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:21 PM   #3
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My Ride: 2003 325xiT
Love the car, the story, and your username. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-23-2016, 10:20 PM   #4
L1011tristar17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texas_touring View Post
Love the car, the story, and your username. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you texas_touring. My granddad used to work for Lockheed in the 70's and had lots of great stories about the L1011. Too bad you don't see them flying around anymore.
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Old 12-23-2016, 10:28 PM   #5
L1011tristar17
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Got the car back from the body shop today. The used hood I put on matched the rest of my car but it had some pretty deep scratches. They took all of the dings out of the hood, stripped it down, and repainted it. They also were able to get 95% of the dent out of the fender. I probably should have gotten a new fender and had it painted, but this looks alright as it is.





I also bought new kidney grilles and passenger corner light, so the car now looks great! Total cost of the repair (including renting the pickup) was just under $1,100.
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Old 12-23-2016, 10:48 PM   #6
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Nice progress. So I guess the blower motor DIY wasn't too bad?
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Old 12-23-2016, 11:43 PM   #7
L1011tristar17
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Originally Posted by lllRazorlll View Post
Nice progress. So I guess the blower motor DIY wasn't too bad?
It was not as bad as I thought. I expected more stuff to be in the way and for bolts to disappear into the ducts, but I got it done quicker than I thought I would. I did have to be really patient when installing the new motor, since the clamps for the motor cover kept getting caught on the fan blades and you don't want to bend or break those.
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Old 12-23-2016, 11:47 PM   #8
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Gotcha, I thought you had to lift the dash out


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Old 12-23-2016, 11:57 PM   #9
L1011tristar17
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Originally Posted by lllRazorlll View Post
Gotcha, I thought you had to lift the dash out


Sent from my iPhone using E46Fanatics mobile app
I think they do for the E39, but on these cars there is an access panel behind and under where the cabin air filter housing lives. Remove that and the plastic engine covers and you're basically there.
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Old 12-24-2016, 12:13 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by L1011tristar17 View Post
I think they do for the E39, but on these cars there is an access panel behind and under where the cabin air filter housing lives. Remove that and the plastic engine covers and you're basically there.


You're right and that's awesome


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Old 12-27-2016, 09:14 PM   #11
L1011tristar17
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Cleaned and conditioned the leather seats today. I didn't realize how dried-out the leather was, so conditioning them made a HUGE difference. The seats feel a lot more comfortable and look almost new. I went through about three clean rags and a quarter roll of paper towels.





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Old 01-14-2017, 08:40 PM   #12
L1011tristar17
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The car developed a bit of a rough idle in colder weather. To fix this I bought a can of MAF cleaner at the store to clean the ICV and MAF sensor. Most of the job was spent on those stupid hose clamps that face down into the engine bay. But as a result the car idles nice and smooth now. For $8 and two hours of my time, I am satisfied.






The idle control valve
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Old 01-14-2017, 09:37 PM   #13
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Nice to see the issue was fixed. I'm still having this problem and I cleaned my ICV. Was your ICV spotless, even on the valve itself? I used half a can of throttle body cleaner and there's still a small bit of carbon buildup on it but since I got the valve to move freely and just assumed it was good enough
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Old 01-15-2017, 01:22 AM   #14
L1011tristar17
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The ICV actually looked pretty clean when I removed it but I don't think the valve was moving like it should. The MAF cleaner I used got most of the residue off and freed up the valve. Since I didn't scrub it, there's some residue left but I don't think it's enough to cause problems anymore.
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